Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine Cupcakes

The clever girl asked if we could bring the cupcakes to the Valentine's Day party at her school.  Of course I said "YES"!  And I immediately thought that Red Velvet Cupcakes would be the perfect treat.  You might recall that last April I made a Red Velvet Cake and found the recipe to be a bit drier than I prefer.  So this time I used a different recipe and it WINS.  Super moist and yummy cupcakes!  If you care for information about the original recipe or the history of Red Velvet Cake, click on my Recipe Index above and go to the Red Velvet Cake recipe there.  Also, that recipe uses cooked icing, whereas this one uses cream cheese icing - a north-south rivalry as to which is "right". 

The clever girl was my sous pastry chef for this endeavor.

First, we brought out all of the ingredients we would need.  Our plan was to make mini-cupcakes for the clever girl's class at school, and then regular-sized cupcakes with the remainder.

Lightly whisk the eggs and then add all of the other liquid ingredients.  The clever girl "helped" me figure out which ingredients should go in the "liquids" bowl, and which should wait for the "dry ingredients" bowl. 

Whisk together the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl, and then add the wet ingredients.  Mix on medium-high until completely combined.  When you mix dry ingredients to wet ingredients, sometimes the dry ingredients get scared and want to fly out of the bowl.  It helps to put your hands on the edges of the bowl to catch any runaways.

Is she a vampire?  No, she just enjoyed the best part of baking - licking the beater!  Once the batter is well mixed, it is time to put it into the cupcake liners (or cake pan if you are making a cake).  The batter is very wet so it literally POURS.  This makes cupcakes a little tricky (or actually just somewhat messy) but still worth it!  Now is the perfect time to lick the beater!  I must say, if you ever have a child that wants to be a vampire for Halloween, this could be a fun way to make the blood!

Bake the cupcakes at 350F for approximately 18 minutes for the mini ones and 23 minutes for the regular ones.

While the clever girl took a nap I made the icing, recipe below.  When she awoke, we iced and decorated the cupcakes! 

I made icing swirls with a Wilton tip 1M.  The clever girl decorated each with red and white sprinkles.  She did a beautiful job!  In case you are wondering, the foil is a way I figured out to hold mini-cupcakes since I don't have an actual holder for them.  Turn your cupcake pan upside down and press aluminum foil to the bottom, being careful to get around all the nooks and crannies.  When you take the foil away from the pan and flip the foil over, you'll have little cupcake indentions in the foil to hold the cupcakes so they don't slide around on a plate!  It isn't super beautiful or fancy, but it works!


Beautiful little cupcakes, don't you think?

The regular-sized cupcakes.  We ended up with 13 mini-cupcakes and 18 regular-sized ones.  I made up a big plate for Mr. Clever Mom to take to work on Valentines Day, plus a few extra for us to have at home! 

Red Velvet Cake/Cupcakes
adapted from Bakerella

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 TB cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 TB vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans OR prepare muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Lightly wisk eggs together in a medium bowl.  Add remaining liquid ingredients and whisk until blended.  Set aside.  Place all dry ingredients in the mixer bowl and whisk until well blended.  Use a clean whisk for this, or just rinse off the other one first!  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high until completely combined, about 1 minute.  Pour into cake or muffin pans and drop the pan on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles. 

If baking a cake, bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.  If making cupcakes, check often to make sure they don't over-bake.  My mini-cupcakes took about 18 minutes, and the regular-sized ones took about 23 minutes.  Keep an eye on them!  Remove from the oven and place the entire pan on a wire rack.  After about 10 minutes, remove cake/cupcakes from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Now you can make the frosting!  The original recipe calls for butter, and I chose to use white shortening instead.  This is because I knew these cupcakes would sit out for a while and wanted to eliminate some of the scariness of that.  Plus using shortening in frosting helps the frosting to stay nice and puffy (no sliding away or wilting).  Since I used white shortening instead of butter, I added some butter flavoring.  I also added meringue powder, which helps your icing get that nice crisp crust on the edges.  These change are totally optional!

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Bakerella
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (I used neufchatel)

1 cup butter, room temperature (I used white shortening)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)
6 cups confectioners sugar
2 TB meringue powder (optional)

Sift the sugar into a medium bowl and set it aside.  If adding meringue powder, sift it in with the sugar.  Beat the cream cheese and butter/shortening on high until creamy.  Add vanilla extract (and butter flavoring if using).  Add the sugar in small batches, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl between each addition.  If the frosting seems too thick, add a small glug of milk (to be more precise, add about 1 TB at a time) until you get a consistency you like.  Frost away!
Printable Recipe

These cupcakes are delicious!  They are super moist with that perfect red velvet flavor.  And the icing is amazingly not too-sweet!  I say amazingly because 6 cups of confectioners sugar seems like a ton but it isn't so bad!  If you are concerned about it being too sweet, just use less, no big deal!  But, YUM.  I think these could go up against some of the fancy cupcake shops around town!  Try them!

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